5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” ~ Revelation 6:5-6
Having considered the first opened seal which produced peace and prosperity on the earth, and the second opened seal which produced war, we return to Revelation 6, and to the third seal opened.
In v.5 we read, "When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand."
The third seal represents widespread food shortage on the earth. The first part of v.5 is a repeat of v.1,3, only differing in the numbers of the seal and the creature. What is different is that the horse is black and the rider holds a pair of scales in his hand.
In those days, the purpose of a set of scales was to weigh grain and other consumables. This scale was not a scale like we know today. Rather, it was more of a balance where an established weight would be placed on one side of the balance and the item being purchased would be placed on the other side. When both sides of the scale were hanging at the same height, the item being purchased equaled the amount of the weight on the other side. These scales symbolize food being weighed out carefully.
In v.6 we read, "Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!"
Food will be in such short supply that it must be rationed. Even then no one will get very much because it takes a day's wages to earn a single quart of wheat or, because it is cheaper, three quarts of barley. This would only be enough food for one person for a day. One would have to work all day long and all he would be able to earn, at best, would be enough for his own physical needs. There would be nothing for the family or for anyone else.
Notice that the luxuries, the oil and the wine, are to not be damaged. Here, God gives a warning to be very careful with the wine and the oil, because it’s so precious. If all you have is raw wheat without any oil to mix with it, without any wine to go with it, it’s very difficult. Bare staples all of a sudden become luxuries. Oil was used for the preparation of bread, for cooking, as was the wine.
Perhaps this is not referring to famine because in the next seal, as we will see, famine is specifically mentioned as part of that judgment. The cause for this shortage will be high prices so that people will not be able to buy adequate amounts of food. This is inflation; economics out of control; panic in the marketplace! Inflation makes money worthless. That, in turn, becomes an excuse for the rigid controls over buying and selling which we find in Revelation 13:17 when, under the reign of Antichrist, the whole world will be subjected to enormously restrictive controls so that "no one can buy or sell without the mark of the beast."
There is an issue on earth today that will make all of this worse, exponentially, and it is over-population. It took from the beginning of recorded history to the year 1850 to produce one billion people on the earth. From 1850 to 1930 the earth's population grew to two billion.
By 1960, just 30 years later, we were at three billion. By 1975, four billion. By 1987, five billion. By 1999, six billion. Today, the population of this earth right now is 7.7 billion people and growing exponentially. This produces a lot of problems because the more people we have, the more odds of them not getting along together and going to war over lots of issues, and thus the more problem we have for famine to sustain that many people.
Add to that the fact that all the Christians will have gone up in the Rapture before this seven year period. So, no more Samaritan's Purse, no more World Vision, no more Feed the Children. That paints a very dismal and desperate picture.
It is increasingly clear, according to the book of the Revelation, that the Antichrist is nothing more than a false, deceptive politician. Whereas, the Lord Jesus Christ is the faithful King of the earth. The Antichrist promises peace, but delivers war. Jesus promises peace, and He will deliver peace. The Antichrist brings shortages of food, and the Lord Jesus says, "I am the bread of life. Whoever follows me and believes in me will never hunger." So the Antichrist will be everything the world says it wants. But the Lord Jesus Christ will be everything we truly need Him to be.